If that order weren't tall enough, companies also want candidates with proven experience. Strong candidates would have solid experience in marketing and could demonstrate the ROI of their past marketing projects, Ripaldi says.
"When we're interviewing IT professionals, we want to hear about what projects they worked on and what they did for the business: What business stakeholders did you work with? What were the challenges? If they can answer those, [we see that] they get what they're doing," Russell says.
In a move that may be welcome news to IT types, some organizations are going so far as to create more than one specialized social-media-oriented position. They're hiring a high-level executive to develop a strategy and then hiring a midtier techie (as social media architect, engineer or developer) with skills in coding, HTML, website development, graphical user interfaces and search engine optimization.
Big data is on the agenda of nearly every future-looking operation, for good reason. "Organizations are drowning in the amount of data that comes in, but it's all very siloed. People have the information, but they can't find it," says Daniel Burrus, founder and CEO of Burrus Research Associates in Hartland, Wis., and the author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible.
So enterprises need a new breed of worker who understands how to collect, interpret and analyze vast amounts of data in a way that's truly useful for making business decisions.
"There's a huge explosion of consumer data, and every company that's even close to a consumer market is trying to figure out what to do with all this data -- to move it from data to insight to actionable items instantaneously," says Korn/Ferry's Delattre.
Like many of the other hot jobs in IT, this specialty requires the right combination of business and technical skills. The ideal candidate needs to be familiar with sophisticated algorithms, analytics and marketing -- as well as ultra-high-speed computing, data mining, statistics and even artificial intelligence.
"IT needs to understand what questions the business [is] trying to answer so it can make better business decisions faster and cheaper," Russell of TekSystems explains. A data scientist "has to know where all the data is and how to push it out, but also what data is the biggest priority, where did it originate, and how to structure the business process so there's no garbage in and garbage out," she adds.
"You need process management skills and communication skills, so you can say, 'I can build this for you, but we need a partnership because a tool alone isn't going to get us what we need,'" Russell explains.